Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Leicester Llama's Christmas Quiz

Something to do if you’re bored over the holidays. This is shamelessly ripped off from Howard Broughton’s ‘bird bits’ round in the recent Notts Birdwatchers’ quiz, but with a theme – Passerine wing bars. To make it slightly easier, all these photos were taken by me in Shetland (all in October) between 2007 & 2011. Species range from very common to very rare, and all are different.

Answers via the contacts page on my website please – – put ‘Christmas Quiz’ in the subject line. The first two correct (or highest scoring if no-one gets them all right) answers chosen at random on 31st December will each win an original line drawing from The Birds of Leicestershire & Rutland (Sabine’s Gull and Rough-legged Buzzard). Strictly one entry per person, and please DON’T give away any of the answers in the comments or anywhere else!

Answers and winners will be revealed in the New Year. Good luck and Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Foot-it rehearsal

Apparently this is my 200th post on this blog - pretty lame for four and a half years, but there you go. At least I'm still posting something occasionally.

Anyway, I thought as I'd made up a list of birds I might see within 2.5 miles of my house for the January Foot-it Challenge, I ought to go and have a walk round the area to remind myself what really is there. So this afternoon I did the 'short route' (about 3.5 miles round trip) in sunny but freezing conditions. This doesn't take me as far as the airfield - even to get to the nearest edge adds another couple of miles to the total and takes about an hour longer.

Ironically, having said I wouldn't include it in my target total, the first birds I heard/saw as I stepped out of the front door were 5 Waxwings in a tree opposite my house! They didn't hang around, and immediately flew off north before I could get any photos. My second record here in about two weeks, but I still don't expect to see them in January.

A couple of hours later I was back home just as it was getting dark, having remembered how bird-free most of my patch is, and why I don't walk round those fields very often. Although I did see two of my 'probables' with no trouble at all - a pair of Ravens and a Marsh Tit, and another 'unexpected bonus' in the form of 3 Golden Plovers in a field with some Lapwings, several species I thought would be straightforward proved to be worryingly absent. Specifically, I didn't see Red-legged Partridge, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Linnet or Rook, and the pond was completely frozen, so the usually resident Moorhens have buggered off.

Including birds I saw in and around the garden (which didn't include my left-over-from-the-invasion Jay for the first time in weeks, or the usually reliable Great Spotted Woodpecker), the total for the day was 40 species. Apart from the species mentioned above, single flyover Siskin and Lesser Redpoll, and a Treecreeper were the best of the rest.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll

No, I haven't gone mad and gone twitching in Suffolk - I've seen at least five Hornemann's in Shetland over the years. But by coincidence, I've recently painted one. The image measures 5 x 5 inches, and is painted in acrylics on watercolour board. Price is £120 framed (plain light wood frame with cream mount), or £110 if you don't want the frame (I'll throw in the mount anyway!). Anyone interested please contact me via my website or email/text/phone if you have my contact details. Thanks for looking.

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll - original bird painting for sale

Friday, 7 December 2012

January Foot it Challenge

Mainly as a way of getting some much-needed exercise, I've accepted Mark Reeder's January 'Foot it' birding challenge. If you haven't heard about this, basically it involves birding from your house on foot and seeing how many species you can see in January. You can read about my area and see the map here, and updates on everyone's lists will appear on that blog in due course. Should be fun!